This year we asked GWN's Steering Committee members and Programme Director to reflect on their positive takeaways for 2020.

We encouraged them to share with us personal and professional successes, regional, national or global events that give them hope for the coming year and, of course, what developments for GWN made an impact for them.


Ruth Shinoda 

GWN Steering Committee Chair

  1. Having the new GWN SC members on board and the new permanent Director role
  2. The GWN's new five-year strategy surviving 2020 
  3. Kamala Harris becoming the first woman and woman of colour Vice President in American history  

Natalia Albert 

GWN Steering Committee Deputy Chair

  1. I have started my masters in political science and public policy at Victoria University  
  2. I've been selected as a new member of the GWN Steering Committee 
  3. The effort all New Zealanders put into helping us live in a COVID-free little bubble.   

Carin Sundstedt 

GWN Programme Director

  1. Getting my dream role (GWN Programme Director)  
  2. GWN's Virtual Summit and having a focus on young and diverse voices  
  3. New Zealand having the most diverse Parliament in the world and seeing public service agencies embrace te reo Māori in their names 

Anita Edwards: 

Chair of Te Aka Wāhine o Tāmaki | Auckland GWN 

  1. Being able to connect nationalities across GWN 
  2. After long planning and discussion, the formation of the Pacific Network
  3. Content provided by Apolitical is a game changer for international awareness and development for leadership 

Leisa Adsett

GWN Steering Committee member

  1. Being part of GirlBoss as a mentor of three outstanding young wāhine who are rising stars 
  2. He hono tangata e kore e motu; ka pa he taura waka e motu – unlike a canoe rope, a human bond cannot be severed; through the pandemic we’ve found new ways to stay connected and strengthen our connections as GWN 
  3. Diversity and Inclusion is now codified in the Public Service Act 2020 and public service Chief Executives have committed to the Papa Pounamu work programme with employee led networks (ELNs) being one of the priority focus areas.

Meena Pratrap

GWN Steering Committee member

  1. Increasing awareness of GWN within DOC and influencing leaders to bring greater awareness for all staff  
  2. Despite Covid-19 constraints, GWN progressing with work and achieving a number of goals 
  3. Workforces appreciating and enhancing diversity. 

Deb James  

GWN Steering Committee member ("I can't pick just three!")

  1. Joining the GWN steering group 
  2. Seeing the Pasifika framework at Auckland Council get over the line and become a real thing 
  3. Work on the Māori and Pasifika strategies from AGWN 
  4. GWN's action plan and support for other ELNs 
  5. The diversity of our current Parliament 
  6. Prime Minister Ardern saying in her recent speech, “Don’t wait for the right time, just do it.” 

Nicola Johns 

GWN Steering Committee member

  1. A highlight for me this year has been the close relationship that has grown with a friend working in Fiji. We’ve supported each other with the challenges of 2020 and, as we feel more disconnected from the world than ever before, it’s a reminder that friendships have no borders. 
  2. Continuing to grow and expand GWN's reach with three more agencies with 'skin in the game'. This will continue to build and strengthen our kaupapa across the public sector. 
  3. 2020 has taught me our world can change overnight and we can respond and thrive. If we can shift half our workforce to work flexibly virtually overnight because we had to, just imagine what we could achieve if we choose to. 

Lu Avia 

GWN Steering Committee member

  1. I am proud that despite a very full on year (particularly working at the Ministry of Health), I have remained engaged and involved in the voluntary activities I take part in that are really important to me. When my 9-5 work gets busy these areas have previously tended to ‘drop off,’ so I am happy that I have managed to keep these as priorities. It’s been important this year for me to learn the value of all aspects of my life, not just those in a paid capacity. 
  2. I am particularly proud of the way in which GWN responded in the COVID-19 lockdown periods continuing to grow and engage even more widely with people all across the public service. As a Samoan, I’m personally really happy that in 2020 GWN was able to support the establishment of the Pacific Public Servants Network. It’s really important that ELNs work collaboratively and support each other. Although we each have our own goals and objectives, together we represent the diverse range of people that make up the public service. 
  3. Seeing the increased collective social conscience and passion for equity in the younger generation gives me great confidence not only for 2021 but for the years to come. I’ve seen this in many facets of my life and, memorably, in the Virtual Summit during the Dear Future Me panel of outstanding young women. 


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